Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Tarqumiya, Tue 12.2.08, Morning
06.45 to 11.00
Meitar Crossing (Sansana)
We arrived at 07.50 and workers were still crossing. Not many, but they were still crossing. Some workers were coming back. Their employers had told them that it was raining in the area near Netivot and they would not be picking fruit in the orchards. One worker was coming back with his hammers - they are not allowed to cross into Israel with their work tools. When will the lockers that Shlomi promised be built? Only one booth was open, and that was causing delays. When we asked, we were told that the computer was not working.... does that mean that the Palestinians have to lose a day's work? When the soldiers saw us, they started to let people pass through more quickly....one of the drivers of a transit van on the Palestinian side told us that fewer and fewer workers are crossing via Sansana - because fewer are receiving work permits. The hardest days at the crossing are Sundays and Thursdays.
Ramadin - After the terrorist attack at Dimona, a road block of dirt has been piled up on Road 3255, the road between Dahariya and Sansana Checkpoint. They have simply blocked off the road. We could not travel along the road to see whether the checkpoint at Remadin has been renovated. Our driver, A., will find out from his own sources if there is still a checkpoint. In any case, workers from Dahariya travel along side roads, or they to have to travel to Dura al Fawar Junction and from there travel along route 60, the apartheid road.
In any case, its a catch 22 situation - either they give out more licenses to the Palestinian taxi drivers or they let them travel part of the way on route 60. What we don't understand is why the Army personnel, who give out permits to work in Israel, think that provocation, derision and insults will produce better security for the residents of the Negev!? Or for that matter, anywhere else in Israel.
Misty and raining, and the almond trees are in blossom. All the road blocks are in place, all the pillboxes are manned and there are very few pedestrians. At Shiuch -Hebron - there is an Army jeep. The soldiers stay in the vehicle. At Sheep Junction - the taxi drivers do not have anything to tell us - we left telephone numbers in case there should be problems.
At the side of the Humanitarian crossings, there is a Border Police jeep - they don't get out of the jeep either. At Halhoul - Hebron Bridge, the traffic is flowing. In the tunnel under the Beit Kahil - there are a lot of taxis - a road accident - and no army presence. Idna Tarkumia - traffic is flowing - all the pillboxes are manned - all the blocks are in place.
We arrive at 9.00 - and two buses are still waiting while families on their way to Ketziot Prison are being inspected. Four buses have already left for Sharon Prison. The whole place is full of puddles and rain, and it is cold - the buses are parked just near the inspection booth. Babies and small children wait with their mothers in the buses for up to two hours. Families only go through the checkpoint when all the workers have gone through, and that did not happen until 7.30 - all of this because the deputy commander "R" - the brigade commander does not allow inspections of workers in the old booth that is to be pulled down. They are not prepared to invest in an extension to the structure because the checkpoint will be closed but nobody knows when. In the meantime, the workers wait there for a long time - and one booth is not enough to inspect 4000 workers in the morning.
Message to those in change of Crossings in the Ministry of Security and to the Army - you read our reports: Please improve the situation...at least two more lanes for inspection at Sansana and two more stations for inspection at Tarkumia - so that it all goes more quickly!!!! These kind of conditions do nothing for the security situation in Israel. They just add more shame!!!!
Pouring with rain in Hebron and few people - even less than usual - a few abandoned souls wandering in the streets. Pharmacy crossing: We observe the children crossing - today, their schoolbags are not being emptied for inspection. The atmosphere of a meeting between settlers and two Hebron families........- something that they don't like - they have no trust in "good" settlers, and with justification. All the soldiers are huddled away in their booths at the checkpoints and army jeeps are standing in the road.
At Tel Rameida, at Tarpat Checkpoint, at Machpela Cave checkpoint, at the Disputed House - no detainees. At Bassam's grocery, the children tell us that after we spoke to the soldier last week, the one who was stopping them all the time on the road, he does not do it any more. The soldiers just stand next to the bus stop and by the Disputed House between 7.00 and 8.00 in the morning.